Chaucer Predicted Hugh Hefner Debacle

This past February, as a comic interlude, I applied Chaucer’s “Miller’s Tale” to the announced engagement of  84-year-old Hugh Hefner with 24-year-old Playboy bunny Crystal Harris.  I have no doubt that Chaucer would get a kick out of what has happened since.

In the story, an elder carpenter marries a young wife, who then teams up with the young clerk living with them to take him for a ride.  It’s not just that she’s unfaithful.  They find elaborate ways to turn him into a fool and, by the end, have the whole town mocking him.

In my post I wrote, “If [Chaucer] were to hear about Mr. Hefner’s impending marriage, he would conclude that it is just a matter of time before he becomes a cuckold (or “cokewold”).”

Well, according to this article, sent to me by a reader, the wedding was canceled less than a week before it was to be held, along with a two-hour television special.  (Who watches this stuff?!)  Reading between the lines, it sounds to me as though Hefner has indeed proved to be the carpenter.

The magazine doesn’t know what games Ms. Harris has been playing, but if you read the piece, I suggest you to take everything she says with a grain of salt.  She claims that the break-up was amicable and rational and that they’re still friends and that the cancellation wasn’t on account of desire for publicity or fear of publicity or because she has another boyfriend or because she didn’t love Hef. Uh, right.

It sounds to me that if Hefner wasn’t cuckolded, it was only because he wasn’t yet a husband.  And while I don’t really care about either of them, I take a Chaucerian satisfaction is seeing a pretentious man outplayed at his own game.  He who has always thought he could have sex without commitment gets dropped at the altar.

Or to put it another way, he has learned he can’t have his cheesecake and eat it too.


The wonderful image above of “The Miller’s Tale” is available on table mats at

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